With government hacks and security breaches in some of our largest industries, cybersecurity is a growing concern and also a great career choice. Earning a master degree in cyber security can give students the edge and make them an asset to potential employers. Continue reading and get the facts about earning a master’s in cyber security and what it all entails.
Cybersecurity master degree programs include curricula that teach all aspects of cybersecurity, from prevention and detection of threats to recovery and forensic investigation. Students also develop evidence collecting strategies to help find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Although master degree programs generally take about six years to complete, students entering this program are typically required to already have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Therefore, the degree should take about two years to earn. Individuals who don’t have an undergraduate degree may also choose to first earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, according to U.S. News & World Report.
There are two major differences or advantages for those in a master’s degree program. Unlike associate and bachelor degree programs, graduate programs do not require general education courses like math, English, etc. because these courses were most likely completed at the undergraduate level. In addition, internships are usually required as part of undergraduate programs. Therefore, the graduate program curriculum is dedicated to cybersecurity coursework.
Online Master’s in Cyber Security Degree Programs
Making it even easier to earn a cybersecurity master degree is the fact that many schools offer this program online. Online learning makes it easy and convenient for an individual to earn the degree while continuing to work. In most cases, courses are 100% online and can be completed from home at the student’s convenience. Students learn through various methods including video lectures, MP3 lectures, e-mail, chat rooms and discussion boards.
Although online programs do let the students work at their own pace, many programs do have a time requirement in which the program must be completed.
Coursework to Expect for a MS – Cyber Security Degree
Cybersecurity students will see courses like cyberspace and cybersecurity; cyber crime investigation and digital forensics; risk management; threat analysis; and disaster recovery. Students learn all aspects of computer safety including not only identifying potential cyber threats but preventing them from entering the network and implementing safety measures for the future.
Other courses a cybersecurity student might take are cryptography, network security, computer networking, digital forensics and ethical hacking. Most master degree programs also require the student to complete a capstone course, which is either a project or written report based on research.
Although this may vary by school, graduate programs also have specific admission requirements that must be met prior to enrollment. These may include bachelor’s degree in computer science, letters of recommendation, proof of completed prerequisite courses, transcripts, statement of purpose and a satisfactory GPA.
Cybersecurity master degree programs may not always be titled as such. Some schools offer a Master in Strategic Cyber Operations and Information Management program. Cybersecurity programs may also be titled as network security programs.
Specific Concentrations within the Master’s in Cyber Security Program
Because cybersecurity is such a vast field, many cybersecurity programs also offer areas of concentration such as intelligence, computer forensics, cyber operations or information assurance. These concentrations allow the student to focus on a specific area of cybersecurity. For instance, the computer forensics track focuses on collecting evidence of cyber crimes so that the criminal can be taken to court. Information assurance focuses on ensuring data is secure and safe from outside access while cyber operations focuses on protecting the network and computer from cyber invasions.
Students taking the intelligence track learn to gather information to determine who and what are threats to the system. Cybersecurity can also be used as a concentration in other computer-related program, such as a Master of Criminal Justice with a concentration in cybercrime investigation and cybersecurity program.
Career Outlook for Those with a Master’s in Cyber Security
Graduates of cybersecurity master degree programs generally have a wide variety of career options open to them upon graduation. These may include network and computer systems administrator, information security analyst, computer and information systems manager or information technology security architect. Both wages and employment outlook are very good for this field.
As of May 2014, according to the BLS, network and computer systems administrators earned an average annual wage of $75,790 while information security analysts earned about $88,890 and computer and information systems managers earned $127,640, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Burning Glass Technologies reports that employment growth for cybersecurity jobs is two times higher than other IT jobs. Another bonus for these workers is that they can usually choose from many different industries because cybersecurity is needed almost everywhere we look.